The resignation of Michael Hervey as Chief Operations Officer of the much-maligned Long Island Power Authority is a nice start at cleaning up a state agency with a history of questionable dealings, among them being polling payments that were linked to efforts to boost New York State Republican politicians like Rick Lazio. But it’s only a start.
Here’s the problem: LIPA has a long history as a GOP ‘turkey farm’ — that is, a place (either a government agency or a private company) used as a place to provide salaries to the friends and kin of Republicans and their patrons. (This has the added advantage, from the anti-government Republican point of view, of providing “proof” of the inherent inefficiency of government programs, as well as a pretext to privatize them, when these programs run into problems as a result of being run by otherwise-unemployable political hacks.) Mayor Bloomberg’s girlfriend, Diana Taylor, was once LIPA’s chief financial officer. A recent New York Times story gives a hint at just how deep the rot runs:
Lynda Nicolino, the former counsel to the Suffolk County Republican Party, earns $260,000 a year as the authority’s general counsel. Barbara Ann Dillon, a $125,000 compliance officer, is the daughter of Denis Dillon, the former Nassau County district attorney. Andrew McCabe, an assistant general counsel paid $117,000 a year, is the son of a former top judge in Nassau County.
Other top executives include former aides to the state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, the former Suffolk County executive, Steve Levy, and the former head of the Suffolk Republican Party.
The executives did not respond to requests for comment.
DiNapoli is the only person on that list who isn’t a Republican, and one gets the feeling he was included largely in an effort to stave off angry phone calls from conservative readers. The reality, as various New Yorkers of my acquaintance have stated, is that LIPA is a GOP cookie jar which they want to keep as a cookie jar — Democratic governors who try to appoint non-Republicans to key jobs such as COO run into unbelievably intense opposition from the state GOP.
Speaking of the state GOP, guess who they want to replace Hervey as COO? Patrick Foye, long prominent in local GOP circles and another political hire at LIPA. Anybody think that his elevation to COO will be anything more than yet another fox installed as the head of the LIPA henhouse? I sure don’t.